My most popular book continues to be Songbirds are Free, based on the true story of Mary Neely, who was captured by Shawnee warriors in 1780 near Fort Nashborough, now Nashville, Tennessee. And River Passage, based on the true story of the Neely family's journey westward with Donelson in 1779-1780, is an award-winning book.
|Neely Family Cemetery in Ballygawley, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland|
The Neely brothers were Ulster Irish, or Scot-Irish, their grandfather having come to Ballygawley from Scotland when he was granted lands in County Tyrone as reward for fighting on behalf of the King of England at Londonderry. Though technically, they were originally from Ireland, as they had lived in County Tyrone in the 16th century but lost their lands there when they fell out of favor with another monarchy.
|Taken from the Bridge into Ballygawley, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland|
I learned that one brother became a very successful owner of a fleet of ships that carried goods back and forth from Londonderry to York City (now New York). He also carried native Irish who were fleeing the poverty of their homeland. Though my ancestors were Protestant, they were known for their empathy toward the native Catholic population, and they had even donated land for the Catholic Church and Catholic School, so it seemed completely in character that he would take them to a new land where they could escape the restrictions imposed upon them in Ireland.
Another brother became a merchant and pub owner in York City, but he doesn't seem to have been cut from the same cloth. Racist and cruel, he drank himself to death at the age of 35.
My goal is to complete this book by the end of the year. It will be considered creative nonfiction, because it is inspired by the three brothers but to make it interesting and vibrant, there are liberties taken regarding romance, suspense, intrigue - and the quest for the American Dream. Stay tuned - I'll be announcing it here when the book is scheduled for publication! [At right: Songbirds are Free, my most popular book, about Mary Neely's capture, captivity, escape and journey home in a war-torn country.]
p.m.terrell is the internationally critically acclaimed, award-winning author of more than 20 books in several genres. Visit her website at www.pmterrell.com to download free chapters of each of her books, watch the book trailers, and find out more about her writing.